Do Brahmins feel guilty for what they have done and doing to India?

Answer by Rami Sivan

This question assumes that all the evils in India can be laid at the feet of the Brahmins. So then who is responsible for all the good, for the preservation of the 5000 years of culture and tradition for the preservation of the oldest known texts — the Vedas? For the preservation of the Sanskrit language, Yoga, Ayur Veda, Vastu Shastra, Mathematics (Ramanujan) , Astronomy, Astrology, etc. etc. etc.

Well it is very hard to address the issue of the imagined evils which are not identified and defined In the question and for which Brahmins should feel guilt and remorse.

I’m assuming it addresses the issues of caste, inequality, oppression, exploitation etc. for which the Brahmins are usually blamed.

These questions arise because the ancient history of India and political and social-developments are either not taught or taught by neo-Marxist leftists. Usually I try to keep my answers as short as possible but this one needs a more expansive response.

The ones in whom power was invested in ancient India were always the KINGS – the Rajas. They employed Brahmins only as advisors and as judges. They are the ones who managed the social order and the justice system and collected the taxes. It will come as a shock to you that Manu the first Law-giver was NOT a Brahmin – he was a Suryavamshi Kshatriya (Gita 4:1 & 2).

The Laws of Manu and all the Dharma Shastras were prescriptive texts – i.e. describing what society should do, not descriptive – i.e. describing what actually was going on. The reality was far different and the Dharma Shastra codes were never implemented in full. The first attempt was by the British who centralised authority (since there was none) and tried to resurrect a criminal code based on Manu.

Bear in mind that all the hundreds and thousands of jātis (castes based on jobs) were all independent and autonomous. They decided their own laws, customs, diet, marriage laws and rites – the Brahmins had nothing to do with dictating or enforcing standards on others. Some castes ate beef, some ate dogs, some were vegetarian, some were drinkers of alcohol and bhang some weren’t, some were matriarchal others patriarchal. Some practiced child marriage and others remarriage of widows — all these customs and traditions were never interfered with by the Brahmins. Even today in the great temple of Srirangam – in the outer prakāra (compound) butchers sell meat openly – the Brahmins have never objected nor campaigned for their removal.

The Brahmins stayed in their agrahārams (ghettos) and minded their own business – which was learning and teaching the Vedas, performing rituals for themselves and others, and going about begging for their living and in turn giving alms to others. What others did was of no interest whatsoever to them.

The other factor to consider is that from the 6th century there was a dramatic upheaval and change in society – as cities developed and expanded, and life became more complicated, new professions and jobs developed – much as is happening today but so much faster. Builders, carpenters, potters, blacksmiths and tradesmen of all types were in high demand, food, clothing, luxury items were all in greater demand. The Vaishyas who were originally charged with farming now became the town merchants and traders while the Sudras took over all means of production — tradesmen, artisans, artists, sculptors, dancers, musicians, entertainers etc. were all Sudras. After the Islamic invasion and conquest the Kshatriya caste melted away and the Vaishyas and upwardly mobile Sudras merged. Some Sudras became very wealthy and even became landlords, chieftains and Kings. The greatest of the Sudra dynasties were the Nandas, Mauryas, Palas and even the Marathas. It is thought by some that Shivaji himself was a Sudra who was exalted in status by the famous and esteemed Pandit Gāgābhatt of Kāśi who bestowed a lineage on him and composed a coronation ceremony especially for him.

By the 10th century only two castes remained in India and it is so to this day – Brahmins and non-Brahmins i.e. Sudras (the term is used only to categorise and not as a pejorative term). Brahmins are those who still live a traditional life style and study the Vedas, perform rituals for all other Hindus i.e. act as priests – and perform daily Sandhya Vandana to maintain their status. Every other Hindu – whatever their caste birth status are in fact Sudras – including the vast majority of “born” Brahmins – since they are no longer observe the rituals which grant them Brahmanatvam.

So in modern terms you have the clergy (traditional Brahmins) and laity – all the rest of the community. SO from a religious point of view, caste has not been an issue for the past 1000 years! It has been a social issue – maintained and nurtured by the populace themselves. It is a case of upper caste Sudras exploiting and oppressing lower-caste Sudras – this cycle of oppression and exploitation has NOTHING to do with priests as a community!

So what should Brahmins feel remorseful for?

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